Bahai News - DAY TRIPPER: See it all... small

DAY TRIPPER: See it all... small

By Haim Shapiro

The Israel in miniature, or at least part of it, is on display at the hotel, right next to the well-known Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, which has been at the site since 1966.

Hebrew University Professor Michael Avi-Yona built that model in four years, basing his work on the writings of Josephus, Mishna, and Talmud.

The model was intended in some measure to provide a substitute for a visit to the Old City, which was then off-limits to Israelis and most visitors to Israel. Only a year later, following the Six Day War, Jerusalem was reunited and the entire city became accessible. But the model, with the temple as its focus of attention, has remained a favorite site for visitors.

Only last year the hotel built a viewing platform so visitors can now see the entire model from above, as well as enjoy a panoramic scene of that part of Jerusalem.

The Israel in miniature models, now called My Land Holyland, are part of a much larger project, Mini Israel, which had been intended for a site at Kibbutz Nahshon.

According to Yoni Shapira, one of the entrepreneurs and the creative and marketing director of Mini Israel, that project was to have opened last September in time for the millennium.

However, he said, that was before the Israel Lands Administration upped the value of the site on which Mini Israel was slated to open. Instead of being worth $800,000, the land was valued at $8 million, he said.

The case is still being contested, but meanwhile, Hillel Cherny, the hotel owner, invited Mini Israel to use an area adjacent to the Model of Jerusalem.

What the visitor sees is a small taste of Mini Israel. But it is a tantalizing taste. Instead of stretching out over 58 dunams (14.5 acres) with 350 models, the display has 70 models on four dunams (one acre).

Many of the planned special effects, such as moving cars, boats, planes, and people, are missing, as are some of the landscaping and lighting effects.

MINI ISRAEL is intended to be spread out over a schematic map of the country, but here the models are grouped according to their themes. There are Jewish, Christian, Moslem, and Bahai holy sites, archeological sites, and sites connected with the history of modern Israel.

In contrast to the Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period model, built on a scale of 1:50, the Mini Israel models are all on a scale of 1:25. Madurodam in Holland used that scale and remains one of the most famous miniature cities in the world.

Shapira is excited that recentlydeveloped technology has made it possible for the builders of Mini Israel to reproduce structures more precisely than ever.

The building material is a synthetic, and it can resemble anything from plaster and concrete to hand-hewn stone. The metal is laser-cut for precision and the entire reproduction scaling has been done by computer.

"Just look at those railings," Shapira says as we walk by the model of Mishkenot Sha'ananim, one of the first Jewish neighborhoods to be built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Equally impressive are the gold onion domes of the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, and the colored tile walls of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

"There are models of this building in seven parks around the world, but I think ours is the best," Shapira says with pride.

Since the exhibit is open until 11 p.m. daily, the lighting comprises an important part of the display. When you go by the old hamam or bathhouse in Acre, you can see the light shining through the colored glass in the roof.

Nighttime visitors also will be able to enjoy the open-air cafe at the site.

The display will remain at the Holyland Hotel for a year, after which Shapira hopes to move it to the site at Kibbutz Nahshon.

It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is NIS 40 for adults and NIS 25 for children 18 and under.


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